Interns-- Professionalism and Email

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Include a Clear, Direct Subject Line

Examples of a good subject line include "Meeting date changed on 9/7/18," "Quick question about your presentation on instructional media," or "Sick on 9/8/18."

This helps conversation threads be organized and clear.

In that vein, do not change subjects in emails, even if it means you need to send multiple emails. For example, if you are needing to tell your supervisor you will be ok for a doctor's appointment, don't use this email to also ask about an unrelated work question.

Use a Professional Email Address

If you work for an organization, you should use your organization email address. But if you use a personal email account--whether you are self-employed or just like using it occasionally for work-related correspondences ---you should be careful when choosing that address.

You should always have an email address that conveys your name so that the recipient knows exactly who is sending the email. Never use email addresses that are not appropriate for use in the workplace. Your email should only be about the subject line.

Include a Signature Block

Provide your reader with some information about you. Generally, this would state your full name, title, the company name, and your contact information, including a phone number. Use the same font, type size, and color as the rest of the email.

Use Professional Salutations

Don't use laid-back, colloquial expressions like, "Hey you guys."

Hey is a very informal salutation and generally it should not be used in the workplace. Use Hi or Hello instead.

Don't shorten anyone's name. Say "Hi Michael," unless you're certain he prefers to be called "Mike." Be sensitive about pronouns, don't assume. And if you see someone's preferred name in "" please honor this.

Use Exclamation Points Sparingly

If you choose to use an exclamation point, use only one to convey excitement.

Be Cautious with Humor

Humor can easily get lost in translation without the right tone or facial expressions. In a professional exchange, it's better to leave humor out of emails unless you know the recipient well. Also, something that you think is funny might not be funny to someone else.

Know that People from Different Cultures and Backgrounds Speak and Write Differently

Miscommunication can easily occur because of cultural and background differences, especially in the writing form when we can't see one another's body language. Be aware that different cultures and backgrounds communicate in different way. Some folks from different cultures and backgrounds want to get to know you before doing business with you. Therefore, they may be more personal in their writings. On the other hand, some cultures and people prefer to get to the point very quickly. It is useful to respect and expect different communication styles.

Reply to Your Emails--Even if the Email wasn't Intended for you

It's difficult to reply to every email message ever sent to you, but you should try to. This includes when the email was accidentally sent to you, especially if the sender is expecting a reply. A reply isn't necessary but serves as good email etiquette, especially if this person works in the same area as you.

Here's an example reply: "I know you're very busy, but I don't think you meant to send this email to me. And I wanted to let you know so you can send it to the correct person."

Proofread Every Message

Your mistakes won't go unnoticed by the recipients of your email. And, depending upon the recipient, you may be judged for making them. Don't rely on spell-checkers. Read and re-read your email a few times, preferably aloud, before sending it off.

Double-Check that you've Selected the Correct Recipient

Pay careful attention when typing a name from your address book on the email's "To" line. It's easy to select the wrong name, which can be embarrassing to you and to the person who receives the email by mistake.

Keep Tabs on your Tone

To avoid misunderstandings, read your message out loud before hitting send. If it sounds harsh to you, it will sound harsh to the reader.

For best results, avoid using unequivocally negative words ("failure," "wrong," or "neglected"), and always say "please" and "thank you."

Nothing is Confidential--So Write Accordingly

A basic guideline is to assume that others will see what you write, so don't write anything you wouldn't want everyone to see. A more liberal interpretation: Don't write anything that would be ruinous to you or hurtful to others.